This year, the New Deal turned 80. And those same New Deal programs championed by FDR, a Democrat, defined the bedrock of the American left political achievements for all others who would seek the presidency. Now, the corporate takeover of our government has proven that those New Deal programs can be slowly dismantled by a Democrat president, as the Obama administration fully digs its heels in on an austerity agenda.
He’s not the one running the show, but rather, his strings are being pulled by Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers like Pete Peterson, who is most of the wallet behind the corporate-funded “Fix the Debt” sham campaign. Even one of Fix the Debt’s key spokesmen admitted that their goal was to create an “artificial crisis” that would justify gutting Social Security.
Jack Lew, Obama’s Treasury secretary, is leading the administration’s doublespeak on austerity. In Europe, he’s told political leaders to lighten up on austerity measures. But in America, Lew is telling Congress to endorse President Obama’s proposals to cut earned benefits for vulnerable Americans who need them to survive, even though Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit. Lew is also a pawn of the corporate and financial string-pullers, coming from Citigroup before his years in the Clinton administration’s division of budget. He was even guaranteed a bonus by Citigroup if he was able to secure a “high-level” federal job.
While most Americans voted for the lesser of two evils last November, we still voted for evil. And with the revealing of Obama’s latest plans, that evil side is showing its face even more these days.
The corporations running our government want our public resources, too. The White House is currently mulling a proposal to sell off the Tennessee Valley Authority, which FDR’s New Deal established as the nation’s largest publicly-owned power company. Privatization of public resources is one of the key austerity measures being forced by the European Union right now, particularly in scorched-earth economies like Greece and Spain. Privatization of public resources, the selling off of a public good for corporate profit, means that the people who depended on that service are usually subject to frequent price gouging, while under the thumb of an unaccountable private corporation.
Privatization is especially high on the agenda, considering the ten oil spills that happened in America over just two weeks’ time and the Senate’s recent endorsement of the Keystone XL pipeline. A large public drinking water supply was tainted with 5,000 barrels of tar sands oil in Mayflower, Arkansas. Yet Bill Clinton, the only former US president from Arkansas, has been noticeably silent on Exxon’s catastrophe even though Little Rock is just 25 miles North of Mayflower.
The silence from both Clinton and Obama on Mayflower is deafening, especially as Exxon has declared the area over the spill a no-fly zone, which has been enforced by Obama’s FAA. Arkansas attorney general Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, has even privatized oil spill cleanup, allowing a company that investigative journalist Steve Horn recently revealed is notorious for oil spill coverups. And since a loophole in federal law says that Exxon’s spilled tar sands oil is bitumen and not oil, they won’t have to pay for the cleanup. The cleanup and coverup job for Mayflower will be paid for by the taxpayers, while the corporations who created the entire mess draw more record profits. BP did the same thing after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that ruined an entire region’s economy Ð wrote it off on their taxes as a loss, shifting the cost to suckers like us. The corporations who run our state and federal governments don’t care which party is in power, as long as they can still control their agenda.
President Obama is also caving to the meat industry’s demands to privatize poultry inspection, despite mainstream chicken producers like Tyson just recently paying a multimillion-dollar settlement for ammonia accidents. Obama’s quiet signing of the Monsanto Protection Act, which exempts GMO crops from judicial review and was written by a senator who received money from Monsanto, is another indicator of the White House’s subservience to big agriculture.
None of these measures are because corporations are struggling and need help from the government to survive. On the contrary, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 have rallied to zoom past pre-recession levels, and corporate profits are at record highs, precisely because workers’ wages are so low. Yet the only bone Obama has thrown to the poor was a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9. This would make an unremarkable difference in the lifestyles of low-wage workers. As Elizabeth Warren rightly pointed out, had the minimum wage kept up with executive pay, or even just the cost of living, it would be roughly $20 an hour today.
The left has made plenty of fuss over the president’s latest proposal to gut one of the programs near and dear to Americans of all political stripes. They’ve even promised to offer primary challengers to all Democrats running for re-election who support Obama’s plan to gut Social Security. Obama has been hearing for years from the left about how Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit, and has been quoted saying that he would raise the pay-in cap to ensure the program’s solvency when he was campaigning for his first term. But the corporate owners of our government want our Social Security money to become a treasure trove of poker chips for their next gambling spree, and have finally gotten a Democratic president to begin chipping away at his own party’s key legislative victory of the 20th century.
Instead of following his own words of the past, or heeding the calls of the people, President Obama is meeting with Wall Street bankers to enlist their help in selling his austerity agenda to the American people. While most Americans voted for the lesser of two evils last November, we still voted for evil. And with the revealing of Obama’s latest plans, that evil side is showing its face even more these days. In his “American Dream” monologue, the late George Carlin warned us of our “owners” taking our retirement money, because “they don’t give a fuck about you.” Turns out, he was right.
The people of the United States should rightly interpret this latest slew of betrayals in government as proof that we live under the thumb of a corporate tyranny, not a legitimate constitutional republic. And we should come together to decide what a functional new government would look like, and reject the assumed legitimacy of our corporate ownership’s puppet government.